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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Trapped by the TSA

I have flown just about 100,000 miles this year – in fact, my trip next week to Cleveland, OH and Washington, DC will put me over 100,000 mark on United Airlines and put me in the “1K” club. In all of my miles flown on jets this year – about 35 round trips with a couple of long hauls thrown in there – I had yet to get inspected by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

That all changed this morning.

When I entered the security line in the United Premier section at LAX, I sensed that the person operating the scanning machine was new. The reason for my observation was that this new employee worked each bag methodically; a worker was standing behind her pointing out what the various items were.

Then it came my backpack. It went through the scanner once. Then held. Then looked at through the scanner. Then pulled out and I was directed to the side.

My Wengert / Swiss Army laptop bag holds a lot of stuff. Usually I carry the following into my bag, even for day trips:

- Lenovo (not IBM!) T61 laptop
- Merlin Sprint Wireless PCMCIA Card
- Digital Camera (either my Canon SD800 IS or my Canon G7)
- Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)
- Blackberry 8800
- Motorola H750 Bluetooth headset
- iPod photo with 60GB hard drive
- Senheiser Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Various cords, USB cables, and digital camera accessories

However, today I was a little light leaving the Sony PSP, iPod (shame on me), and Headphones at home. Of all days for me to get picked out this seemed like and unlikely day, given the few items I was carrying.

I gathered up my belongings, was not allowed to put my laptop back in my bag and headed over to the station. I figured my entire bag was going to be taken apart and everything pulled out on the table to be inspected. However, I was wrong. The TSA agent, who was friendly carrying on a casual conversation, wiped each compartment of the backpack and ran it through the analyzer. After completing all the sections in a relatively short amount of time I was on my way to the gate.

Fortunately I was not running late nor was I on the Malarone medication, or I might have been agitated. If you need to get stopped on during an inspection, it had been to be the right time and place for me.

The crazy part – for the first time ever two weeks ago my baggage was inspected by the TSA as I found a pamphlet once I got to India.